Does “Evangelical” = Trump Supporter?: Three Anecdotes from the *Believe Me* Book Tour

Believe Me 3dThe media and much of the intellectual community seems to equate “evangelical” with “Trump supporter.”  And why not?  81% of white evangelical voters pulled the lever for Trump, a fact I try to explain in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.

Here are three pieces of anecdotal evidence:

1. Back in June I was asked to appear on CNN to talk about Trump and evangelicals.  When I asked the producer if I would be appearing on CNN alone or with other “talking heads,” she said that I would be on the air with Dr. William Barber, the African-American progressive minister and outspoken critic of Trump.  I responded to this news by saying something like, “So it sounds like this will be an anti-Trump segment.” The producer did not say anything in response. About an hour later, the same producer called me up and asked me what my book, Believe Me, was about.  I told her it was largely critical of Trump.  She responded by saying something like, “Oh, I thought you were an evangelical.”  When I said that I was an evangelical, but did not support Trump, she seemed confused.  She called me back twenty minutes later to tell me that they did not realize that my position on Trump was so similar to Barber.  They wanted someone to argue with Barber.  The segment was canceled.  (I eventually did find my way back to CNN a couple of weeks later).

2. On July 10, I got up early and drove to Washington D.C. to film a segment for Rising, a new morning news show on The Hill‘s online television network.  Rising is hosted by Krystal Ball, a former MSNBC host and 2010 candidate for Congress, and Buck Sexton, a conservative pundit and radio host.  When I arrived on stage, before the cameras starting rolling, Sexton starting asking me about my background and my work on Believe Me.  When he found out I was an evangelical who was critical of Trump, he obviously did not know what to make of me.  As the cameras started rolling, it was clear that Sexton was incapable of understanding how an evangelical could oppose Donald Trump.  His grasp of evangelicalism was incredibly shallow.  He obviously only understood evangelicals through the lens of politics and he spent the entire segment trying to put me into a political box.  After about 10 minutes, Sexton, obviously frustrated that I was not giving him Christian Right talking points, told the producers that “this segment is going too long.”  I was ushered off the set.  I turned around to thank Ball and Sexton. Neither of them looked up or said anything.  They were already prepping for the next segment.  While I was in the green room one of the producers of the show told me that the segment would air in a day or two.  As far as I know, it has yet to air.  I doubt it ever will.  Too much nuance, I guess.

3. Just the other day I got an e-mail, completely out of the blue, from one of the post-War West’s great public intellectuals.  He asked me to come to Washington D.C. to participate in a civil dialogue about Donald Trump.  This public intellectual was nearly 90-years old, but he still presided over a center devoted to his thought at a D.C. university.  He told me that the event would be televised nationally on C-SPAN.  Needless to say, I was flattered.  But after the two cases mentioned above, I decided to make sure this public intellectual knew who I was and what he was getting by inviting me to participate.  I e-mailed to tell him that I accepted his invitation, but he should also know that I was an American historian and an evangelical who wrote a book critical of Trump.  Thirty minutes later he e-mailed back to tell me that he thought I was a Trump supporter.   He dis-invited me from the event.  He was very apologetic and polite about it.

Apart from the fact that CNN, the producers and hosts of Rising, and this famous public intellectual did not read my book (or apparently even the dust jacket or Amazon description of my book), what should we make of these three cases?

In all three of them, I was invited to contribute to a discussion because I was an evangelical.  But because I was an evangelical, it was assumed I was a Trump supporter.

Thoughts?

The *Believe Me* Book Tour Comes to Dallastown, Pennsylvania

Fea at Hearts and Minds

And what a night it was!

I walked into Hearts & Minds Bookstore in Dallastown around 6:50pm last night and there were already nearly 100 people milling around the store awaiting the book talk and signing.  The place was packed!  Folks were shopping for books, drinking red and blue-colored punch, and angling for seats on chairs set up in every corner of the store.  Byron and Beth Borger, the owners of Hearts & Minds, certainly know how to throw a party!  Even this guy was there!

I spoke for about 30 minutes or so, answered questions for another 30-45 minutes, and then signed some books.  Following the signing, about thirty folks stayed for more conversation about evangelicals, politics, and Donald Trump.  We had Trump supporters, Trump voters, anti-Trumpers, Hillary voters, and everyone in between.  The conversation continued to about 11:00pm and I left energized (which is rare for an introvert like me) and encouraged by the civil nature of the dialogue.  American democracy and the Christian church need more conversations like the one that took place last night.  I did a lot of talking, but I also did a lot of listening.

Thanks so much to Byron and Beth and the staff of Hearts & Minds for hosting me and publicizing the event.  And thanks to everyone who came out.

The Believe Me book tour will be on break until the end of September.  We will enter the next leg of the tour on September 24, 2018 at the University of Chicago Seminary Co-Op Bookstore.  I hope to see you there!

Laura Ingraham’s Controversial Remarks are Rooted in a Long History of Fear

In case you missed it, here is CNN’s Brian Stelter’s report on Ingraham’s recent comments about “massive demographic changes.”

Ingraham is correct about the demographic changes facing America today.  This is not the first time we have seen such changes.  It is also not the first time that Americans have responded to such changes with fear-mongering.  This time around the fear-mongers have a cable television channel.

A few more points:

  1. Ingraham says “the America that we know and love doesn’t exist anymore.”  She says this in the context of immigration and demographic change.   And then she says that her statement is not about race or ethnicity.  Seriously?  Then how does Ingraham define the America “that we know and love?”
  2. Tucker Carlson says “no society has ever changed this much, this fast.”  This sounds like something a white Southerner might say during the late 1860s and 1870s, the period of Reconstruction when freed slaves were trying to integrate into southern society.
  3. In her response, Ingraham condemns white supremacists.  But her comments about immigration and “demographic change” seems to be little more than a defense of a white America that she believes is being threatened by people of color.  How is this any different than David Duke and others?
  4. How does Tucker Carlson know that we are undergoing “more change than human beings are designed to digest?”
  5. Ingraham says that “the rule of law, meaning secure borders” is what “binds our country together.”  On one level, Ingraham is correct here.  Immigration restriction and securing the borders once bound America together as a white Protestant nation.  White Protestants did not want Chinese men and women coming into the country, so they “bound our [white Protestant] country together” by passing the Chinese Exclusion Act.  White Protestants did not want more Italians and other southern Europeans coming into the country, so they passed the Johnson-Reed Act (1924) to restrict them from coming.  So yes, Ingraham is correct when she says “the rule of law” and “secure borders” have bound our country together.  It was racist then.  It is racist now.  On another level, Ingraham probably needs a history lesson.  For most of the 19th-century, the United States did have something equivalent to open borders.  So there has been a significant chunk of American history when secure borders did not bind America together.
  6. I will let someone else tackle this, but “merit-based immigration” seems like a racist dog-whistle.  This reminds me of when Trump said that we need more Norwegian immigrants and less immigrants from “shithole” countries.

Often-times fear is propagated by Christians who claim to embrace a religious faith that teaches them that “perfect love casts out fear.”  This faith calls us to respond to demographic change with love, not fear.

By the way, I wrote a book about how fear of such “demographic change” led evangelicals into the arms of Donald Trump.

Believe Me 3d

The *Believe Me* Book Tour Comes to the “Give & Take” Podcast with Scott Jones

Give and Take

I thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with Scott Jones.  You can listen here.

I also encourage you to check out the Give & Take Podcast.  Scott lands some great guests, including Alan Jacobs, David French, Emma Green, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Karen Swallow Prior, Kelly Kapic, Michael Wear, Molly Worthen, Pete Enns, R.R. Reno, Robert P. Jones, and Stanley Hauerwas.

Byron Borger of Hearts & Minds Books On Why Evangelicals Support Donald Trump

Believe Me 3dI will be doing a talk on Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump at Hearts & Minds books on August 10, 2018.  I hope to see you there.  Byron Borger, the proprietor at Hearts & Minds, has a nice piece about Trump, evangelicals, and my visit in the York Daily News.  Here is a taste:

And now we have some very unusual fundamentalists supporting a vile, exceedingly secular president who consorts with Playboy bunnies and prostitutes and is legendary for his irreligious attitudes, his worldview of greed and power and might. If the religious right of the 1980s seemed unbiblical and un-Christ-like in supporting the affable but hawkish Ronald Reagan, how in the world can they possibly use the Scriptures and the Lordship of Jesus to support the tawdry and volatile President Trump? How the theologically and politically compromised religious right of the 1980s evolved in our generation to the incoherent movement it is today is one of the great questions of our time.

That question will be pondered for years as theologians, cultural critics, and historians reflect on this odd season of American life and this peculiar alignment of conservative religion and a prideful president who said he has never asked for forgiveness and who stands for some policies that are against the grain of Christian tradition.

Dr. John Fea of the history department at Messiah College is one such historian who is himself an evangelical and interested in this perplexing re-run of the religious right. He has written a well-researched book called “Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump,” released to much acclaim a few weeks ago. Fea has been on national talk shows and his book is being reviewed all over the country. He writes about the history of religion in American public life. His specialty is the colonial period and his earlier book, “Was America Founded as a Christian Country?,” has earned significant awards. In this new book, he is trying to discern how it is that so many white conservative Protestants (sometimes called “evangelicals”) voted for the current president.

Fea shows that some of the concerns and fears which animate this new iteration of the religious right have, in fact, been baked into American religiosity since our earliest years. Nationalism and anti-immigration animus is not new. Only such an astute historian of religion could help us see some of the spirits of the age and help us realize their centuries-old roots.

Yet, there is something new happening with the “court prophets” as Fea calls the leaders of the 2.0 version of the religious right. “Believe Me” is a fair and fascinating study of what’s going on in these contentious times and helps those who are not part of the conservative Christian movement understand their fellow citizens. And, hopefully, it will help some who have been too supportive of the current leadership ask if their faith might call them to be less cozy with any political party. Dr. Fea is a good man, a jovial speaker, a fine scholar, and his book is an important contribution to one of the most important phenomena of our time.

If you go

Author John Fea will be speaking at Hearts & Minds, 234 East Main Street in Dallastown, on Aug. 10 at 7 p.m. All are invited.

Read the entire piece here.

The *Believe Me* Book Tour is Coming to Hearts & Minds Bookstore in Dallastown (York County), PA

Believe Me 3d

On August 10, 2018, I will be at Byron Borger’s shop.  Here is Byron’s press release:

Dr. John Fea, Chair of the History Department at Messiah College, will discuss his new book Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trumpon Friday night, August 10, at Hearts & Minds, an independent bookstore at 234 East Main Street, Dallastown. The program begins at 7:00 pm.

Byron Borger, co-owner of Hearts & Minds explains the significance of the book, saying, “Believe Me offers a historians look at the rise of the religious right, particularly why it is that many white, conservative Protestants supported a candidate who was admittedly irreligious, vulgar, and known for power and greed, not to mention cavorting with Playboy Bunnies and porn stars. This wide-spread support from religious conservatives for such an incongruous candidate is one of the most fascinating – and for many of us, troubling – trends in American religion and American politics. Dr. Fea helps us explore this curious situation.”

Believe Me was released a few weeks ago to critical acclaim and Fea has appeared on many national venues, including NPR and C-Span.  The book has been reviewed in dozens of publications and is considered one of the most important public affairs book of the year.

“John is a jovial person and great teacher,” says Beth Borger, co-owner of Hearts & Minds, “and we are looking forward to hosting him here at the shop.  Any time he visits we have wonderful conversations and we learn new things. It’s a delight to sponsor a public program where others can hear this central Pennsylvania treasure.”

Dr. Fea is an accomplished author, having garnered significant awards for Was American Founded as a Christian Nation?, Why Study History?, and a co-authored academic volume, Confessing History: Explorations in Christian Faith and the Historian’s Vocation, among others.

Fea will speak about his book, discuss the latest revelations about President Trump’s religious associates, and participate in civil discussion about the relationship of faith and political life.   All are welcome, light refreshments will be served, and books will be available for purchase and autographing.

Evangelical Fear in Alabama

Luverne

Check out Stephanie McCrummen‘s Washington Post excellent piece on a Southern Baptist, Trump-loving church in Luverne, Alabama. Many of the members of this church fear immigrants, think Obama is a Muslim, and hate Hillary Clinton because they claim that she hated them.  It is also worth noting that most of the pro-Trumpers in this church appear to be over the age of 60.

 

Al Mohler Pontificates on the Origins of the Culture War

KavanaughWho “started” the culture wars?

Recently some members of the Evangelical left called for a “pause” to the culture wars.  Evangelical women want Congress to reject the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination and appoint a more moderate justice.  Read about their efforts here.

Meanwhile, Al Mohler, the conservative evangelical president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has told PJ Media that such efforts are “doomed to failure.”  Here is a taste of Tyler O’Neil’s piece:

“The ‘Call to Pause’ is just the latest effort by the Evangelical left to blame the culture war on conservatives,” Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), told PJ Media Sunday. He insisted that the “Call to Pause” is doomed to failure, and more likely to damage the reputations of its supporters than to achieve any cultural or political change.

Here is more:

Mohler fought back against the idea that conservative evangelicals are to blame for the culture war. “It was liberals who pushed the new ethic of personal autonomy and sexual liberation, and it was liberals who championed legalized abortion and celebrated the infamous Roe v. Wade decision in 1973,” the SBTS president told PJ Media.

He noted that “you can date organized evangelical involvement in American politics to Roe v. Wade,” noting that the conservative evangelical movement was largely a reaction to the Left’s culture war coups achieved by the Supreme Court. This became even more clear in light of Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), which supercharged conservatives’ emphasis on the Supreme Court.

“Now, just after the nomination of a clearly conservative judge, Brett Kavanaugh, as the next justice of the Supreme Court, the evangelical left is predictably opposing the nominee, and calling for a ‘pause’ in the culture war,” Mohler noted. “Amazingly enough, those behind the ‘Call to Pause’ are transparent about their fear that Roe v. Wade might be reversed, or even that abortion rights might be curtailed.”

A few thoughts:

  1. Mohler is often at his dogmatic worst whenever commenting on sexual politics.  I do not expect Mohler to agree with the evangelical women who oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination, but why does he have to come across as such an authoritarian ecclesiastical strongman whenever the issue he is addressing involves evangelical women?  One thinks he might have learned something about the voices of women in his denomination.
  2. Mohler pins the entire culture war on Roe v. Wade.  While this Supreme Court case played an important role in mobilizing the Christian Right, it is much more complicated than this.  But nuance, of course, will not help Mohler and his friends win the culture wars.
  3. Mohler continues to operate on the old Christian Right playbook for winning the culture wars.  If we nominate the right Supreme Court justice, the playbook teaches, the problem of abortion will go away.  For some context on this playbook see Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.

Are Anti-Trumpers Paranoid?

Paranoid StyleI have argued that fear helps explain the evangelical embrace of Donald Trump in 2016.  When I speak, blog, and tweet about Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald TrumpI am often asked about the role fear might play in the political lives of anti-Trumpers.  Are Trump’s opponents afraid of what he will do to the country?  Of course they are.  But I did not write a general book about the relationship between fear and politics.  Instead, I wrote a book about why 81% of white evangelical voters pulled the lever for Donald Trump.

Historian and cultural critic Andrew Bacevich thinks that anti-Trumpers are paranoid and such paranoia is bad for the republic.  Princeton historian Julian Zelizer disagrees.  Here is a taste of his piece at CNN:

Making his opponents look paranoid has in fact been a conscious strategy of the President. This is why he warns that critical news is not real and how a “deep state” is driving the investigation against him.

Paranoia is certainly a relevant problem in US political history. But Hofstadter’s theory doesn’t capture most of what is going on with Trump’s opponents. Nor does the President when he sweeps aside the critics of his jaw-dropping press conference in Helsinki, Finland, as “haters.”

Brushing aside a majority of the President’s critics as showing signs of paranoia misses the new political reality of the Trump administration.

Read the entire piece here.

Two Minutes of Fame on CNN

As some of you know, I made my CNN debut today. 🙂  I am glad that they featured Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.  The interview took place via Skype in my small office (more like a bunker) in the basement of my house!

Here it is (starting at about the 30:00 mark):

A few quick comments:

  1. I was honored to share the segment with Nahal Toosi of Politico.  Here is her most recent piece.
  2. I have a large head, but the producers insisted that I move even closer to the camera.
  3. Once they had the camera angle they wanted, they told me not to move!  (So no, I am not usually that stiff!).
  4. I obviously heard the audio, but I could not see Christi Paul or Nahal Toosi.  I was just staring at a black screen for the entire interview.
  5. I used less than 1% of my preparation for the interview on the air.  I guess that’s show business!  🙂

The Mayor of a Midwestern City Takes a Civil Rights Tour

Selma

Jim Throgmorton, the mayor of Iowa City, Iowa, recently took a tour of major Civil Rights Movement sites in the South.  Here is a taste of his brief reflection at the Iowa City Press-Citizen:

After departing the parsonage, we visited the recently opened Legacy Museum in Montgomery. A “narrative museum,” it tells the history of black Americans from enslavement, through the Jim Crow era of lynching and racial segregation, through the heroic actions of the Civil Rights Movement, to the present moment of mass incarceration and retrenchment.

Again, imagine yourself with us. Shortly after you enter the museum, you turn down a darkened pathway lined with replicas of slave cages. Looking into the first of the cages, you see a hologram of an enslaved black woman waiting to be sold at the nearby auction block. She begins speaking directly to you. You feel like you’ve just encountered the ghost of a mother who was about to lose her husband and children. It is an emotionally shattering experience.

Every American would benefit from exploring it slowly and telling friends about what they learned.

Read the entire piece here.

As some of you know, I took a similar tour in June 2017.  It inspired the final chapter of Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.

Chesterton: “Rich men are not very likely to be morally trustworthy”

A reader sent me this quote from Chesterston’s Orthodoxy (1908) after reading Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.  I am thinking through it.  I welcome you to join me in the comments section:

Only the Christian Church can offer any rational objection to a complete confidence in the rich. For she has maintained from the beginning that the danger was not in man’s environment, but in man. Further, she has maintained that if we come to talk of a dangerous environment, the most dangerous environment of all is the commodious environment. I know that the most modern manufacture has been really occupied in trying to produce an abnormally large needle. I know that the most recent biologists have been chiefly anxious to discover a very small camel. But if we diminish the camel to his smallest, or open the eye of the needle to its largest — if, in short, we assume the words of Christ to have meant the very least that they could mean, His words must at the very least mean this — that rich men are not very likely to be morally trustworthy. Christianity even when watered down is hot enough to boil all modern society to rags. The mere minimum of the Church would be a deadly ultimatum to the world. For the whole modern world is absolutely based on the assumption, not that the rich are necessary (which is tenable), but that the rich are trustworthy, which (for a Christian) is not tenable. You will hear everlastingly, in all discussions about newspapers, companies, aristocracies, or party politics, this argument that the rich man cannot be bribed. The fact is, of course, that the rich man is bribed; he has been bribed already. That is why he is a rich man. The whole case for Christianity is that a man who is dependent upon the luxuries of this life is a corrupt man, spiritually corrupt, politically corrupt, financially corrupt. There is one thing that Christ and all the Christian saints have said with a sort of savage monotony. They have said simply that to be rich is to be in peculiar danger of moral wreck. It is not demonstrably un-Christian to kill the rich as violators of definable justice. It is not demonstrably un-Christian to crown the rich as convenient rulers of society. It is not certainly un-Christian to rebel against the rich or to submit to the rich. But it is quite certainly un-Christian to trust the rich, to regard the rich as more morally safe than the poor.

–G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, p.118 (Doubleday Image edition).

Some Thoughts on the Audience of *Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump*

Believe Me 3dWho is the audience for Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump? There are three audiences.  Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. The 81% of white American evangelicals who voted for Donald Trump.
  2. The 19% of white American evangelicals (and non-white evangelicals) who did not vote for Donald Trump
  3. Anyone who wants to understand why 81% of American evangelicals voted for Donald Trump.

I realize that many of those in the 81% will want nothing to do with this book. But I hope some will read it.  I hope the book can serve as a way of encouraging dialogue in churches and other places where evangelicals gather together in communities of Christian fellowship that transcend politics.  (I am assuming, of course, that some of these places still exist.  I think they do).

I also realize that those who study evangelicals at the highest level–many of them former evangelicals or disgruntled evangelicals–want to take evangelicalism to the woodshed for its many sins.  Their scholarship is good and needed, but I part ways with many of them when it comes to reaching the church.  As a Christian, I am a member of the body of Christ–the Church. That is where I must find my primary identity.

Of course I still have a responsibility to live out my vocation in the academy,  the classroom, and as a professor at a Christian college.  If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that some posts are written with my church community in mind.  Others are written for American historians or members of the academic community.  Still others are for the general public.  These groups often overlap.  I have written books for my students, my academic discipline, the general public, and the church.

As a Christian, I have chosen to worship among American evangelicals.  In 2016, a large number of my tribe voted for Donald Trump.  I don’t think that was a good idea.  I have even written a book to tell my tribe that I do not think it was a good idea.  But in the end, I must live with the people in my tribe and try my best to fulfill my vocation as a historian and educator in their midst.  Some will say I go too far in the criticism of my people.  I know this from the letters, e-mails, and phone messages I receive–some of them pretty nasty.  Others will say I don’t go far enough in criticizing my people.  I know this from the reviews of the book.

The trashing of evangelicalism is popular these days and you can get pretty far and become pretty successful in academic/scholarly circles–especially in the fields of history and religious studies–by doing this.  I am sympathetic to scholars who call evangelicals to task for their sins.  As I am learning on the Believe Me book tour, many people had (or are having) very, very bad experiences in evangelicalism.  They are hurting.  They are angry.  I am listening to their stories.

But in the end, I will continue to defend the term “evangelical” because it still means “good news.”  For me, this “good news” is the ultimate source of hope for those who are hurting.  I am still willing to fight for the “good news” of the Gospel because this message changed the trajectory of my life and the life of my family and extended family in positive ways.  And I have seen hundreds of other lives changed by this message—men, women, people of color, poor people, rich people, gay and straight people.

In the end, I want to use my vocation as a historian to be a more direct part of the solution in the evangelical church rather than someone who merely diagnoses the problem or calls-out evangelicals for their many sins.  I am not sure I can do this as an academic, but I am willing to try.  Perhaps other Christian and evangelical scholars are called to something different.  But if they are called to something different, they will need to convince me how they will use their gifts and knowledge to serve the body of Christ.  This point relates not only to the content of their work, but also to its style and means of dissemination.

If we pursue this path within evangelicalism today, it will mean that we must serve those with whom we disagree on a whole host of political and cultural issues.  It will also require us to work hard at uncovering the common spiritual and theological ground that draws us together every Sunday morning despite our differences. I am convinced that this kind of engagement deepens our faith, helps us to see the flaws in our precious arguments, makes us better listeners and communicators, and teaches us to love.  It may also mean, in some cases (but certainly not all cases), staying in a particular religious tradition rather than leaving for a more a comfortable place of worship and fellowship where people think more like us.

Postscript:

I am sure that for some of my readers, this post just made me a subject of analysis, rather than a detached scholar.  Of course such analysis goes both ways.  I have seen many of my fellow academics as subjects of analysis for a long time! 🙂

What the Christian Right’s Political Playbook Sounds Like

James Dobson insisted that Bill Clinton did not have the character to be POTUS, but he has no problem with Donald Trump.  I discuss Dobson and others in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.

Here is an interview he recently conducted with Jerry Newcombe, a Christian nationalist author who writes about the American past.  Newcombe interviewed me on his radio show in June 2012.  We had a good conversation.

There are several problems with Newcombe’s view of Thomas Jefferson, but he also gets some things right.  I am not going to go into the details here.  As many of you know, I wrote about Jefferson and religion in Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?: A Historical Introduction.

It is striking to listen to these culture warriors.  They continue to follow the political playbook of the Christian Right that they learned (and in some ways helped to create) in the 1980s.  In fact, much of this interview could have taken place in the 1980s.  Little has changed in their approach to political engagement.  They cling to the playbook.

If you get a chance to listen to this interview, you will hear two evangelical men (especially Dobson) who place their trust in the Supreme Court to save the moral decline of the country.  I am confident that Dobson and Newcombe believe that Jesus is their Savior, but when they talk about cultural change it is all about winning political battles.  Dobson gets nostalgic about Robert Bork.  Newcombe blames the Supreme Court for the cultural “mess” in America.  They say almost nothing about the role of the church and its place in the culture promoting life, peace, justice, love, compassion, and mercy.

 

*Christian Century* Reviews *Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump*

Believe Me 3dSteven P. Miller offers a fair review of Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump under the title “How the culture wars made Trump: The demons of the white evangelical past.”

Here is a taste:

Lest readers have any doubt where Fea will come down on evangelicals’ support for Trump, the Messiah College professor clues them in before page 1, dedicating the book to “the 19 percent.” Trump often urges listeners to “Believe me,” appending the imperative to any number of points by way of deflecting attention from the evidence. Taking that line as his title, Fea explains why so many evangelicals do believe Trump, then urges them to put their faith in more lasting things.

Fea is uncommonly well positioned to make the case for turning away from the Donald and toward the Almighty. A prolific author and a nonstop blogger, he is the very definition of an engaged Christian scholar. Fea has a knack, not always evident among his like-minded peers, for negotiating the spheres of faith and the academy without making a big deal out of the occasional tension between them. He seems comfortable in his evangelical shoes. That might make him appealing to secular editors and publishers who like to identify evangelicals who defy stereotypes. Yet one senses that Fea would happily sacrifice any such attention if only evangelicals, including his brothers and sisters at the megachurch he has long attended, would abandon their self-defeating quest for a Christian America.

Fea’s explanation of the 81 percent is primarily historical in nature, as one would expect, although the evidence he marshals suggests there might well be something singularly sirenic about Trump himself. Candidate Trump bellowed all the right notes, especially regarding fear, which is Fea’s major explanatory theme. Evangelical fear is the kind of thing that disqualifies Barack Obama on account of his unconventional presidential narrative (black, academic, urban, religiously liberal) while turning his successor, whose résumé made him both unconventional and unqualified, into a refreshing outsider who tells it like it is. Obama’s progressivism, coupled with heightened concerns about religious liberty and a sharpened focus on the Supreme Court, created space for a wordmonger who would say anything to get a massive bloc of votes. Sure, Trump is a racist adulterer whose dueling life conceits are unpaid bills and unsavory associations—but his middle name is not Hussein.

Read the entire review here.